Monrovia — The newly inducted President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (LBMEC), Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr. has outlined series of plans for the betterment and advancement of the Convention and the improvement of the wellbeing of its members in the country.
Rev. Reeves, who is the also the Senior Pastor of the historic Providence Baptist Church (where Liberia's Declaration of Independence was signed on July 26, 1847), won his contenders Rev. Bask Johnson and Benjamin Yeanay at the just ended 46th Mid-Year Congress of the LBMEC held on the campus of Ricks Institute in the township of Virginia, outside Monrovia over the week end.
Speaking shortly after he was officially inducted into office recently, Rev. Reeves disclosed that his strategic plan for the Convention is divided into two parts, including "The Basic Program" which will be implemented between three to six months, and "The Big Picture" which specifies things needed to forge ahead, and sets the tactical strategic trajectory for the next generation, and after his Administration.
As part of "The Basic Program", Rev. Reeves disclosed that every Christian denomination, bulk of which were birth by the Baptist Church, have denominational pronouncement and promoting system through a radio station, and as such, a Baptist radio station, newsletter, and the Baptist Harold will be established.
He pointed out that the work to start the Baptist radio station has already been done.
"We pledge that within 100 days as of today, God willing not later than Sunday 31st January 2021, we will be broadcasting from the Baptist Radio Station".
Endowment Fund For Baptists
Rev. Reeves disclosed that his administration will provide retirement or pension benefits and health care funds to Baptists, especially Baptist Pastors, through the establishment of the LBMEC Endowment Funds, adding that "Able Baptists are already being consulted to lead this effort".
He recalled that comments made by Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr, president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention on April 2, 1964 calling for the establishment of theological institutions & higher education for the training of young men for the ministry, have not been fully actualized by the Convention.
He added that 56 years after the ex-President's speech, the Convention managed to establish only one institution of higher learning, the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS), offering only two first degrees in Theology and one in Religious Education.
Rev. Reeves indicated that the current situation makes the "LBMEC to stand in the dust of other denominations she helped birth".
He pointed out that despite the situation; his administration has already sorted out and found an able Baptist who has agreed to chair a committee that will move as fast as possible in establishing the Baptist University.
"The immediate plan is to resurrect the liberal arts Junior College at its original home, the Ricks Campus, Ricks institute and all the high schools in the surrounding areas will serve as feeder schools for the Junior college who will in turn serve as feeder for the Baptist University. The Junior College will immediately feature "C" and "B" Teacher's Certificate, ensuring quality teachers at our Baptist elementary and high schools".
He disclosed that the main campus of the Baptist University and Divinity School will be housed on the campus of the LBTS and will offer a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Education programs.
Rev. Reeves averred that the technical arm of the Baptist University offering "AA" and "BSc" degrees in technical fields, Baptist Technical, Agriculture and Vocational University, will be housed at Kwendin Mission School, Kwendin, Nimba County.
"The prospectus and technical paper work for the creation of the Baptist University has largely been completed and will be submitted to the National Commission on Higher Education in the first 3 to 6 months of our Administration".
Rev. Reeves further vowed to ensure the establishment of the Baptist Education Commission within the next three to six months of his administration.
Uniformity in Baptist Schools
"We have sort and obtained the acceptance of an experienced Baptist, who will revamp and put back on track our Baptist Educational Mission and Vision. The first task of this Commission will be to examine the proliferation of non-Convention Baptist Schools, (that is, schools owned by Baptist Churches) with the idea of uniformity between Convention Mission Schools and Baptist Church Schools; uniformity in student dress code, uniformity in curriculum, uniformity in teachers training, pay and quality of service".
He added that his administration will report on the uniformity and standardization of all Baptist elementary and high schools in the coming months.
Rev. Reeves disclosed that his administration has engaged major Seminaries and Universities in the United States that have agreed to provide study abroad scholarships to Baptists.
He added that these learning opportunities will be accorded to deserving members of the LBMEC under The Peter Amos/J. Eva George (Associations), Henry D. Hoff (Sunday School), The Lott Carey (Female from the southeast), The Presidents' (named after the past, present & future Presidents of the LBMEC) scholarship programs.
He noted that a Baptist Credit Union and Loan Program will be put in place to provide Baptist the opportunities to access capital or obtain small business loans swiftly and expeditiously.
As part of reconciliation and reunification efforts, Rev. Reeves disclosed that all Baptists in Liberia will gather in unity at the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia in February 2021 for theBicentennial Anniversary Celebration of the Providence Baptist Church.
He added that at the reunification, singspiration and consecration Weekend extravaganza, the amount of US$100,000will be raised for education and mission works of the LBMEC.
Rev. Reeves vowed to ensure that Baptists unite and reconcile with one another to move the Convention forward.
"Our Convention has been struggling reconciliation and unity for a long time. This administration will reconcile us that we may lead in reconciling the nation. There will be no witch-hunting of anyone. Everyone will be expected to live as free Baptist in a free society. This administration offers unconditional Christ-like charity for all and malice towards none. Indeed, there will be no witch hunting; there will also be no impunity for pillaging, and squandering the resources, assets and wealth of the Convention".
Rev. Reeves further pledged that his administration will established an independent Elders Council within the LBMEC.
"Never again should individuals and churches in this our beloved Compact find the need to seek redress to their grievances outside, never again should the administration unilaterally and authoritatively ignore or dismiss the findings of an Elders Council Report agreed upon by all the parties simply because the findings are not favorable to the administration".
"It is against this backdrop that I will in the very near future seek your indulgence in creating an Independent Elders Council, replacing the overly politicized Commission on Peace and Advocacy. This Council will comprise eminent statesmen and women of the Baptist Faith. They shall serve in similar manner as a Supreme Court and report to you, the General Assembly".
The LBMEC new President, however, underscored the need for Baptists in Liberia to reclaim the heritage of the Convention in the rural parts of Liberia.
He claimed that since the 1980 tragedy which led to the death of Dr. Tolbert, rural Baptist churches have been increasingly turning to Pentecostal Churches.
"We don't know how many churches have turned; some projections have it that over 50% in some counties have turned; Reason being, no support from LBMEC. This administration will focus on the local church not only in rehabilitation, relief and structural aide but will also focus on human capacity building through leadership, staff, deacons, Sunday School, and youth training programs. The next Annual Convention will be in Maryland as was intended prior to COVID-19".
Rev. Reeves, however, stressed the need for the headquarters of the Baptist Ministries in Liberia dubbed: the "Baptist House" to be located in the capital, Monrovia, instead of the outskirts making the premises unreachable for those he called "ordinary Baptists".
"We will in our first 100 days relocate the Baptist House, even if temporarily in Monrovia. The Baptist House must house the Baptist Executive Staff, all Baptist Auxillaries and provide full time services to Liberian Baptist. The Baptist House staff must be paid well and on time. Gone are the days, of work-without-pay, expecting the Convention to raise salary arrears payments for Baptist House Staff at annual sittings. This Convention is old and strong sufficiently to pay and support its staff if properly motivated, compassionately encouraged, sufficiently manage and competently led".
The Big Picture Plan
Rev. Reeves stated that the "Big Picture Plan" remains the tactical strategic trajectory for the Baptist path for the next generation, or after the years of his administration.
He said from Liberia to other parts of the world, "detractors" within the Baptist assembly have been preaching hatred, sectionalism and tribalism designed to bring divisiveness among Baptists.
"This Administration will not only operate in the context to gender and youth sensitivity, but as God gives me strength and under your watchful eyes, I here and now commit to ensuring regional and sectarian balance at every level of our administration. This Administration recommits to the mission of the Church which is centered on missions/ministry and education will never again go unattended".
"Apart from the Crusade and the Campaign, I plead that we fast and pray, seeking answers to the question: What is God's Will for Baptist Work in Liberia? This postulate must look into our moral commitment as a people and redefine our value system, reawakening and stimulating both our lifestyle and teachings in our schools and churches".
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